Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Interesting resource - ACL

Hey Folks,

I've received a number of resource articles from various readers. Here is one I thought I would pass on since I think research in this area would help us all out:

  • This article was passed on to me by Jane Logan
    • The Effect of Technique Change on Knee Loads during Sidestep Cutting. by Dempsey et. al. from the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal, 39(10) 1765-1773
    • The article is about a study on side step cuts and how different technique (like body lean, foot angle, etc.) result in varying loads on the knee. The goal is to find the proper technique to make a cut, which reduces knee strain and thus reduces the number of non-contact ACL tears. I like this path of study as it might give us athletes and coaches insight on how to cut safely on the field.
Pictured Above: A layout shot from the Mixed finals at UPA Championships 07.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Is there a Jersey Stigma?

One of the strange things about Ultimate is how we treat wearing other team's jerseys. This isn't a universal stigma, but I've ran into many people who have made the statement, "I would never wear a jersey for a team I haven't played on".

Pictured Above: A Sockeye and Johny Bravo scrum at UPA Championships 07 (Photo Courtesy of Inian Moorthy)

I have made that same statement. Recently, some of my friends and I have re-qualified our not wearing another teams jersey by stating that, "we won't wear a jersey for a team that we don't think we could make". This statement, like the last, is really no different.

If you thought of pro sports, I'm pretty sure you'll never see Crosby wear a Ottawa Senators jersey or P. Manning wear a 49ers jersey, but these guys are more like property of a franchise. At the next level down, it's likely that college players and high school players will wear all sorts of jerseys.

My latest stand on the situation is that Ultimate jerseys from other teams should be worn in any situation you want. In promoting the sport, it is more important that we wear our sports advertisements (the jerseys) in all sorts of situations. For me, however, I draw the line at wearing my traded or bought jerseys during tournament play, but otherwise, I'm all for wearing Ultimate jerseys that I like. Next, we need to have more trading opportunities.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Poll Thursday - More indoor

Lot's of interesting comments about last weeks poll on the value of indoor. From the polls it seems pretty clear that for beginners and intermediate players, the majority believes that there is value in playing indoor Ultimate. I'm still not convinced.

This week I'll ask two poll questions. The first one is how much break time (from Ultimate) do you feel is good. The second question is does your body feel worse after a game of Ultimate on the following surfaces (multiple surfaces can be selected). Both polls are to the right.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Making your own Ultimate Talk and possibly saving time

I'm going to step out of the Ultimate sphere for a second and make a recommendation that may help some of you with respect to blogs and getting information.

The scenario is the following. You're taking a break at work and head to your favourite Ultimate blogs. Of course, you click The Cultimate Opinion, and blam, there's no updated article. You may repeat this process for any number of other blogs of the course of a day.

Figure 1: Here is a screen capture of Google Reader.

One option that might consider is the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and using the many readers out there that will gather all the information to one single point telling you if there is new posts up. I, for example, use Google Reader as my RSS reader (screen shot in Figure 1).

Figure 2: The red square illustrates the RSS feed icon that you need to click to go the RSS feed URL.

Figure 3: An example of an RSS feed URL.

Every blog that I read regularly is added to Google Reader by grabbing the RSS URL (found on a blog in by clicking on the feed image - see Figure 2, and then copying the url - seen in Figure 3), and adding it to my reader (through Add Subscription). Now, similar to an e-mail reader, there will be listings of new articles and read articles.

You still might need to go to the web page for the blog once in a while to post comments, enter polls, and more, but just click the title on the RSS reader and you should be sent right to the blog.

Figure 4: Step 1 in importing your subscriptions in Google Reader is click "Manage Subscriptions".

Figure 5: Step 2 in importing your subscriptions in Google Reader is click "Import/Export".

Figure 6: Step 3 in importing your subscriptions in Google Reader is browse your computer and add the OPML file. Finally, upload the file.

One other useful thing in the RSS reader is importing a group of subscriptions at once. This is done using an OPML file. I've created an OPML file containing all the Ultimate blogs that I list in my blogroll. Just save this file to your computer and then execute the import as shown in Figures 1, 2, and 3 for Google Reader.

Now you have your own Ultimate Talk where you can add and delete streams that you want or don't want to see. You can even import a feed from if you really want to.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Is tournament X for you?

Phil Watanabe and I were talking in between games at the UPA championships. The topic was which tournaments our teams were playing at and whether they had value for our teams. We sort of came up with a simple starting model to analyze the value of a tournament for your team.

Pictured Above: An attempted foot block by Shawn Chua against a Van Buren Boy (photo courtesy of Lisa Di Diodato).

The parameters that are relevant to the analysis are:
  • C - Competition - For competition, if possible, take all the teams who are playing in the tournament (or those that would be in your division) and average their RRI. You could use your own teams RRI to normalize this value or just compare your RRI against the average.
  • C$ - Cost - the average cost of the tournament for an individual including lost opportunity costs.
    • Tourney + food + accommodation + travel
    • Lost time at work
Then if you divide C by C$ it will give you a competition to cost ratio on a per person basis. Given two or more tournaments you can then simply compare the competition to cost ratio and that will tell you, which tournament might be a better choice.

This simple equation misses many of the factors that you might want to consider when you're choosing a tournament (and possibly you don't even care about cost). Some of the factors are travel time, amenities at the tournament, playing against regional competition, and potential for prizes, prize money, and glory.

At least this equation is a starting point for the analysis.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Poll Thursday - Indoor

Last weeks query on how your amount of ultimate is going to change next season appears to be a Gaussian distribution. Most people plan to play the same while some will retire and others will play more at about the same frequency.

For those of us in colder climates, the winter has no Ultimate unless your playing in some of the winter and fall tournaments (usually accompanied by snow and rain), or there is the option of playing indoor Ultimate.

In Toronto, our indoor facilities have significantly improved over the past few years, moving from hard green covered surfaces to this new fake grass filled in with small little rubber balls. I've only played on the new surface once or twice (outdoors), but in general I've been against indoor Ultimate citing injuries and decreased throwing skills as arguments against. This is most likely because of the old surfaces that I played on and the lack of wind making it too easy to throw the disc (and therefore I lose one of my advantages in the game). This week the poll is divided into three categories for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced player. Do you think indoor Ultimate helps improve player level X's Ultimate game. Poll to the right.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

2007 - and so it began; and so it ends

This past weekend marked the end of my 2007 Ultimate season. I broke my yearly record for tournaments played from 20 to 21. My teams finished 1st nine times, 2nd three times, and top 8 six times (not including 1st and 2nd place). That's about the same success rate as 2006 for me, but the tournaments that my teams played at were definitely of higher caliber this year.

What did I learn? I learned plenty, and I felt my understanding of the game advanced significantly this season. On the blog, my favourite passed on lessons this year were:

So, now what do I do? I've decided to take this week off, and then Monday or Tuesday morning next week I'm going to head into the gym and start working out. Most likely, we'll start swimming and cycling with some light weights to help rehab my shoulder. I'll minimize any stress on my Achilles for as long as it takes to feel no more pain by just touching it.

My sporting life changes over to low impact hockey. It's hard to believe for many, but playing non-contact hockey (equivalent to basketball's boxing out and pushing, but no hitting) is probably one of the gentlest sports on the body. It's a high pace game that offers the challenge of controlling the implement (stick and puck are not as challenging to use compared to a disc), but the game has an additional challenge in mobility. It is very interesting and challenging to play a sport where mobility is not simply a running and jumping issue like in ultimate, and you're mind will want to go get the puck, but you won't know how to do it. Great game.

I love Ultimate, but it's nice to be moving into phase I and be able to watch premiership football on Saturday morning instead of waking up early to warm up and play. Thanks all for another great season.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Tournament 16 - Realization 1 - I've turned that corner

My first sporting love was basketball. I played elementary and high school ball as one of the best players in our area, and over 7 years I climbed to a competitive level where I was able to hold my own on many courts. I got red shirted in University and decided at that point to party and study instead of pursuing University basketball.

Pictured Above: Kim Yae of Torontula at Bowling Green where the women won the championship (picture from Sarah Hutchison)

The interesting thing was I could no longer play "for fun" basketball. As a player I couldn't handle bad fundamentals, bad understanding of the game, and lack of practice. I could only play competitive pickup or division one intramurals. I retired from basketball in 2001 and have never looked back except a mild interest in March madness, the occasional fantasy pool or game of bump.

This weekend we played a fun Ultimate tournament in Guelph called GUT rot. Our team was a collection of good players that, unfortunately, did not click until our final game. I realized over the tournament that I've turned the same corner in Ultimate that I did in basketball, and I don't really enjoy playing on a team that isn't practicing together and working to get better.

I have known this for a few years, and I've slowly cut out what I call the learning levels of Ultimate such as summer and winter league and local coed tournaments. This weekend showed me that I need to change my mindset if I'm going to play in "for fun" tournaments anymore. It's sad because those were the tournaments where I met all the great people in the game and had the opportunity to throw the throws that you need to learn for the bigger games. It is also sad since it is a sign that once my body and mind get to the point where they don't want to compete anymore, I'll have to find a new sport and only coach Ultimate.

My lowest point of the weekend was when I realized I was getting frustrated with players who were trying out the bigger and more challenging throws in the game. I was more concerned with winning then letting people grow. How can these players learn to make the right decisions if they're not allowed to test out different situations. Overall, I had a fun weekend with fun people. I'll need to rethink my approach to playing in these types of tournaments and come in with a mindset of teaching and having fun.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Poll Thursday - Got a plan?

I haven't had a poll in a while, so back to the questions.

For many of us the season is either done or coming close to finished until the spring. I'm planning on reducing the number of tournaments I play next year. I was just wondering how much ultimate you plan to play next season (poll to the left).


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

College Tournament 5 - Lesson 2 - Swing Game

One of our major weapons last weekend was our swing game. It was beautiful to watch, and it was one of our go to options that would pick apart a defense. The interesting thing is that in our final match up, Bowling Green Alumni really focused on slowing down our swings and made an additional effort to coral the swing (Coral in this case means stopping the swing first and then moving in for a tighter mark).

Pictured Above: James Donovan marks David Street in power pool play at UPA Championships (Photo taken by Lisa Di Diodato).

This is one good adjustment to slow down a swinging game, and unfortunately, we couldn't capitalize on what opens up when the coral over commits. I still haven't come up with the perfect readjustment, but here are some thoughts.

When we played Johny Bravo in Florida we played a similar defensive style by really aggressively corralling the swings. Bravo countered with adjusted cuts that allowed for the inside break throws that the Bravo throwers had. That's option one, but it depends on the strength of your throwers.

Another option I've been mulling over is the idea that from a swing going break side, once it is stopped, the thrower looks for an open side small throw and then cuts for the give and go. The advantage here is that the corralling defender is out of position making the give and go cut even more advantageous.

I don't know if there is a lesson here, but it's something that I'll need to think about more to make our swing offense better.


Monday, November 05, 2007

College Tournament 5 - Observation 1 - Savage Experience

This weekend, Torontula headed back to Bowling Green for a college tournament. We also went to Bowling Green last spring and had a spectacular time. The same was true this year. The fields are good, the hotel is very close to the fields, the competition is reasonable, the food options are great, and Bowling Green just seems like a nice place with nice people. I've never been downtown Bowling Green, but the University area is nice.

Pictured Above: At CUUC'07 Morgan receiving a pass with Inian chasing. I'm in the foreground (Photo courtesy of Kirsten Taylor).

Unfortunately, we could only scrounge up 11 guys to go to this tournament. I decided I would make a run at playing every point for the whole tournament. I got close, but the increased competition in the finals against the eventual winners, Bowling Green Alumni (13-12), caused my knee to hyper-extend on point 115. I played a few more points when our guys had injuries, but that was about all my body could take. Oddly enough, I don't feel more sore than after any other tournament this year and less sore than my first tournament of the year.

The most interesting thing about the whole experience was how the quality of my play decreased in relation to the more fatigued I got. This included poorer throw execution and worse decision making. I've noticed this effect in the past, and many people have pointed out the correlation between fatigue and performance, but during this experience I felt and saw how fatigue hurt my game.

I made some horrible decisions on the second day against Michigan B (in the quarters). In general, our whole team was making bad decisions in this game. Caffeine helped clear up my mind, and a focused effort on simplification of choices also helped improve this area of my game. My throws, however, did not improve even after a concerted effort to focus on execution. This doesn't mean I was missing my target, but the usual touch and accuracy that I put my throws was not there. This made each throw a little harder for the receiver to catch and in some cases resulted in drops.

Overall, I was just surprised on how much fatigue changed how I could play. Going to extremes illustrated this, and I wonder in other situations how the errors may be due to fatigue that is not so obvious. I guess I have another motivator for how important conditioning is.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Day 4 and beyond

Day 4 started late due to the previous night's party. I continuously moved from the Daiquiri Deck to the two dance floors at Gilligan's. The night ended in the hot tub, 6 new pillows, and a final visit from security.

We missed the ladies finals, and came in a few points into the Open finals missing one of the highlight reel plays (double layout to a strip to a point). With friends, beer, and a good match up, I enjoyed the Bravo vs. Sockeye match up. Both teams played interesting ultimate in relatively windy conditions, and I feel the wind made the game very interesting for both sides. The wind, likely, increased the number of errors we saw, but the crowd didn't really seem to be into the game until closer to the end. This might be due to the places we all came from and the lack of true support for either team. Maybe we should open up the betting gates to improve the commitment of the fans to the final.

We moved from the far end-zone to the end-zone close to disc central for the mixed finals. A shellacking ensued in which Slow White just couldn't get any momentum in the still strong wind. There were some nice layouts, but overall I was disappointed in the game's excitement level, but Shazam clearly ruled the day. Fortunately, I had our camera, and that kept me interested. I also bought a Johny Bravo long sleeve jersey and searched for Sub Zero, Chewbacca Defense, and Ring of Fire guys to trade for one of my Goat jersey's with (if still interested, contact me).

For two more days we continued to party it up in Florida with Scott from Shazam (who drove us to the Deck on a random hitchhike), Karl from Van Buren Boys (I think we owe him 2 cases of beer), some Jam guys, Rhino guys, non-ulti ladies from Michigan, amazing waves on a nearby beach, and Karl and Don (local dart players). In all, a great time, but happy to be back home.

For my first UPA championships, I learned and experienced plenty of Ultimate. The nice thing to know is even at the top the game their are many great people who just love the game.